Studies are now showing a correlation between diabetes and oral health. According to the American Diabetes Association, those diagnosed with diabetes are at an increased risk for serious gum disease because they are more prone to bacterial infection and have a lessened ability to fight bacteria in the gums. Research is even finding that this is a two-way street. Because gum disease can affect blood glucose control, it can actually contribute to the eventual progression of diabetes.
Oral Health & Diabetes
Diabetes weakens your body’s ability to fight bacteria in your mouth, putting you at risk for oral infections like gum disease. Now that research has found a correlation between the two, it is important to not only regulate your blood glucose levels, but to maintain oral hygiene as well. Below are some signs that you may be at risk for gum disease:
- Gums that appear red, sore, bleeding, swollen or pull away from the teeth
- Losing teeth
- Chronic bad breath
- Irregular Bite
Seeing your dentist regularly can help you maintain oral hygiene and prevent gum disease, tooth loss, dry mouth and fungal infections such as thrush. You can also prevent fungal infections by maintaining good diabetic control, avoiding smoking, and removing and cleaning dentures. Doctors recommend making an appointment with your dentist every 6 months. Make sure to ask what they recommend to maintain the best oral health between appointments - particularly how to battle plaque. Plaque is a sticky remnant of saliva, food and bacteria that is harmful to your teeth and can actually cause inflammation and lead to gum disease.
Maintaining a Happy & Healthy Smile
Listed below are helpful tips on how to maintain healthy oral hygiene:
Brush every day, the right way: Not only is it important to brush your teeth at least twice a day, but you need to brush them properly as well. Brushing your teeth not only improves breath, but it cleans the mouth of the bacteria that helps produce plaque and other oral infections. Try to brush your teeth gently at a 45 degree angle against your gums. Brush each section (front, back, and on) for two minutes and don’t forget your gums and tongue!
Floss daily: One of the commandments on achieving oral health is flossing every day. Flossing is able to get to places a toothbrush cannot and ultimately controls plaque. Make sure to ask your dentist for tips on how to floss if you are unsure of the method.
Maintain your dentures: If you have dentures, it is essential to maintain your dentures. Remove and clean your dentures daily to help reduce gum irritation, sores and even infections. Make sure to let your dentist know if there are any changes in the fit of your dentures.
Stop using tobacco: Cigarettes, cigars, pipes and other tobacco products are discouraged for everyone. But if you have diabetes, these products can be even more harmful as they put you at risk for gum disease. Tobacco not only damages gum tissue, but it can also cause receding gums, bone and tissue loss, and even loss of teeth.
Keeping your mouth healthy can positively affect the rest of your body, especially those diagnosed with diabetes. Try your best to eat healthy, avoid tobacco products, keep up with any medications and see your dentist regularly.